THURSDAY, Oct. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A newly identified genetic risk variant is associated with comorbid alcohol dependence (AD) and major depression (MD) in African Americans, according to a study published online Oct. 25 in JAMA Psychiatry.
Hang Zhou, Ph.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues conducted a genome-wide association study that analyzed criterion counts of comorbid AD and MD in African American and European American data sets. The study was performed in two samples (Yale-Penn 1 and Yale-Penn 2) with 4,653 African American participants and 3,169 European American participants.
The researchers found that the median comorbid criterion count was 6.2. There was a significant association for rs139438618 at the semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A) locus with AD and MD comorbidity in African American participants in the Yale-Penn 1 sample (β = 0.89) and the Yale-Penn 2 sample (β = 0.83). A more robust association was yielded in meta-analysis of the two samples (β = 0.87). No significant correlation was seen in European American participants. Individuals with higher risk of neuroticism or depressive symptoms, and a lower level of subjective well-being and educational attainment had a higher level of AD and MD comorbidity in analyses of polygenic risk scores. Higher risks of AD and MD comorbidity were seen for larger intracranial and smaller putamen volumes.
"SEMA3A variation is significantly and replicably associated with comorbid AD and MD in African American participants," the authors write.
One author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
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